OSU Women Head To NCAA Regional

Jessica Davenport

The Ohio State women's basketball team is two wins away from reaching the Final Four. The No. 2-seeded Buckeyes will face No. 3 seed Rutgers on Sunday in Philadelphia. OSU edged Rutgers 52-50 earlier this season. Today, we have comments from OSU head coach Jim Foster and Big Ten Player of the Year Jessica Davenport.

Head coach Jim Foster is returning home to Philadelphia and he hopes to lead the Ohio State's women's basketball team to a spot in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

The Buckeyes (30-4) will make their first appearance in the regional semifinals since 1993 when they face Rutgers (27-6) at approximately 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Liacouras Center.

The No. 2 seed Buckeyes earned their bid to the Sweet 16 with an 86-45 win over No. 15 seed Holy Cross in the first round March 20 and a 75-65 victory vs. No. 7 Maryland in the second round Tuesday.

Ohio State and Rutgers have met once this season, with the Buckeyes claiming a 52-50 decision Jan. 16 in Value City Arena. The teams clashed in 2004 as well, with Rutgers scoring a 56-53 victory Jan. 4 in Piscataway, N.J.

"I think it's sort of interesting," Foster said. "It's almost like we are in the same conference. We played at Rutgers last year. They played here this year. This is the third time we've played them in about a 15 month period and that's like you're playing somebody in your own conference. So, we're familiar with each other and that usually makes for a pretty interesting basketball game."

Rutgers' quickness and aggressiveness was a lot for the Buckeyes to handle on Jan. 16. But Foster does not seem too concerned about the matchup.

"Well, if I remember the game, we both got after each other and both caused each other some problems," he said. "I think we're both aggressive. We both get after it and I think that's what the game is going to be like on Sunday."

Foster was asked if he thinks Rutgers is playing better right now, then it was when OSU played the Scarlet Knights earlier in the season.

"Well, when we had played them earlier, they had just beaten Texas, LSU, and Tennessee consecutively," he said. "So, I don't know how much better you can be playing."

Foster is a graduate of Philadelphia Cardinal Dougherty High School, and Temple University. Foster's coaching career began at Bishop McDevitt High School. He then moved on to coach St. Joseph's University for 13 seasons, amassing a 248-126 record.

"It's just nice to be going home," Foster said of the Philly reunion. "It's nice to be able to go into a town and tell the bus driver how to get where you're going. They sometimes struggle with that. There's a lot of good restaurant opportunities. Not just one or two that would be recommended. There's any number of reasons. And it's nice to know my wife is handling all the ticket requests from friends and family."

Ohio State sophomore center Jessica Davenport continues to have an outstanding season. She had 15 points and nine rebounds in the win over Maryland.

Davenport, the Big Ten Player of the Year and first-team All-American selection, is averaging 19.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

Foster says Davenport is wise beyond her years. Yes, it helps being 6-5 and athletic, but she always seems to have the mental edge as well.

"The thing that sets her apart is her maturity at a young age," Foster said. "A lot of other kids evolved and developed and maybe we were spending a lot of time when they were freshmen and sophomores on their development between the ears and emotionally. We haven't had to spend a lot of time on that with Jess. And therefore, we're just working on basketball things. And as a result, she's better, quicker. And that's a credit to her."

When Davenport came out of Columbus Independence High School in 2003, she wasn't even considered the best post player in the state. Alison Bales from Beavercreek, who is now a top shot blocker at Duke, was rated higher. There were other Ohio players that were rated as high as Davenport as well. But Foster saw something special in Davenport.

"Yes, I think the most important component with the young bigs is what they are between the ears," Foster said. "And her maturity between the ears was obvious from the first phone call, to the first meeting face-to-face, I knew without a doubt we would spend no time on some of the issues you have to deal with on some other kids. Jess just stood out. She was much different that way. She's a mature person. She's very comfortable with who she is."

The soft-spoken Davenport elaborated on her coach's comments.

"I think my maturity comes from just putting things into perspective," Davenport said. "This year, there's a lot of different responsibilities that I have and just putting them into perspective and making sure that I'm doing things to help my teammates."

Maryland double-teamed Davenport every time she touched the ball on the low block and you can bet Rutgers will try a similar tactic. But Davenport has seen a little bit of everything this year.

"I think just learning how to read different defenses is something I've improved in the most this season," Davenport said. "I'm getting a lot of different things thrown at me and the better I get at reading defense and finding out where my teammates are on the floor… (Foster) says we need to get better ball movement in order for us to get great shots."

Rutgers only gave up 52 points to the Buckeyes in the earlier meeting and Davenport knows it will be another defensive grind.

"Well, I think they are good defending team and I expect nothing less this game," she said.

Here are game notes from OSU Sports Information:

SCOUTING THE SCARLET KNIGHTS

Rutgers will be making its first "Sweet 16" appearance since 2000 after a 62-37 victory over Hartford in the first round and a 61-54 win over Temple in second-round action. The No. 3-seed Scarlet Knights secured their first-ever outright Big East regular season title March 1 with a 51-39 win at Villanova. Rutgers earned the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament, but fell in the semifinals to Connecticut. The Scarlet Knights enter the regional semifinals with a 27-6 overall mark and were 14-2 during Big East competition.

Three Rutgers players average double-figure scoring, led by senior Cappie Pondexter with 13.9 points per game. Teammates Matee Ajavon and Michelle Campbell average 12.4 and 11.3 points per game, respectively. Campbell leads the squad with 5.8 rebounds per game and Essence Carson pulls down 5.6 caroms per contest. C. Vivian Stringer is in her 10th season at the helm of the Scarlet Knights and holds a 202-110 (.647) record at Rutgers. She is in her 34th year as a head coach with a 722-245 (.747) overall record. Stringer is making her 18th appearance in the NCAA tournament.

LADY BUCKS VS. SCARLET KNIGHTS

Ohio State and Rutgers met earlier this season, with the Buckeyes pulling out a 52-50 victory over the Scarlet Knights in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in Columbus. Jessica Davenport led Ohio State with 22 points and seven rebounds in the contest. Cappie Pondexter tallied 20 points for Rutgers.

With the win in January, Ohio State leads the all-time series with Rutgers, 4-3. The two teams have met one previous time in the NCAA tournament, with the Buckeyes earning a 91-60 win over the Scarlet Knights in the second round of the 1993 tournament. Ohio State knocked off No. 4/7 Rutgers, 52-50, Jan. 16 at Value City Arena in game one of the 2005 Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge.

The Buckeyes trailed by as many as seven points in the second half, but the squad shot 76.5 percent (13-of-17) in the final 20 minutes to chip away at the lead and capture a win over its highest-ranked opponent this season.

Rutgers' Matee Ajavon hit two of her 20 points to tie the game at 45 with 2:35 left. Ohio State's Brandie Hoskins hit a layup and the team forced a Rutgers' shot clock violation to regain possession of the ball. Caity Matter drained her only 3-pointer of the game to give the Buckeyes a 50-45 advantage with 1:17 left.

Ashley Allen stole the ball from Ajavon with 56 ticks left on the clock. Hoskins went 1-for-2 from the free-throw line and Rutgers' Essence Carson nailed a trey to keep the game within reach at 51-48 in favor of Ohio State. Stephanie Blanton sank one of her two attempts from the charity stripe with 10 seconds left to put the game out of reach at 52-50.

DAVENPORT NAMED ASSOCIATED PRESS FIRST-TEAM ALL-AMERICAN

Jessica Davenport was named an Associated Press First-Team All-American March 23. The voting was conducted by 45 members of the national media panel, who also vote in the weekly AP national rankings poll. Davenport leads the Buckeyes this season with 19.3 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game.

Louisiana State's Seimone Augustus, Kansas State's Kendra Wecker, Duke's Monique Currie and Texas Christian's Sandora Irvin join Davenport on the first team. Davenport is Ohio State's second Associated Press All-American, but is the initial first-team selection. Former Buckeye Katie Smith earned second-team honors in her senior season in 1996.

OSU REACHES SEMIFINALS FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1993

With the second-round victory Tuesday vs. Maryland, Ohio State earned its first berth to the regional semifinals since 1993, when the Buckeyes finished second in the nation with an 84-82 loss to Texas Tech in theCAA championship game.

Overall, Ohio State wil make its seventh appearance in the national semifinals. After the second-round win vs. Maryland, Ohio State has played in 11 second-round games in its 14 appearances in the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes improved to 7-4 in those contests and snapped a two-game losing streak in the second round. Last year, Ohio State, seeded sixth, suffered a 63-48 defeat to No. 3-seed Boston College at St. John Arena in Columbus. In 2003, No. 5-seed Louisiana Tech eliminated the No. 4-seeded Buckeyes via a 74-61 score.

30 WINS A FIRST FOR BUCKEYES, BUT NOT FOR FOSTER

With the 75-65 victory over Maryland Tuesday, the 2004-05 Ohio State team became the first to win 30 games in a single-season in program history. The86-45 win over Holy Cross in the first round set the record for season victories with 29.

The 30-win season for Ohio State also serves as the third 30-win campaign for OSU head coach Jim Foster in his 27-year career. Two of his Vanderbilt teams - 1992-93 and 2001-02 - posted 30-win seasons. Purdue holds the mark for most wins in a season by a Big Ten team with 34 in its 1999 national championship season.

FOSTER AND STRINGER SHARE ELITE COMPANY

Foster, who is serving as head coach for his third Division I women's basketball program at Ohio State, is just one of seven coaches all-time to lead three different teams to a national Top 25 ranking by the Associated Press. Rutgers head coach Vivian Stringer is another member of the select group.

In Foster's first tenure as a head coach at St. Joseph's, the Hawks were rated in the Top 25 a total of 35 weeks in 13 seasons.

Foster spent 11 years at Vanderbilt, where he led the Commodores to a Top 25 ranking for 164 cumulative weeks.

At Ohio State, Foster has had the Buckeyes among the nation's best for 38 weeks. Foster ranks second on the list to Stringer for most weeks spent in the AP Top 25 at three separate programs. Foster's teams have been in the AP Top 25 for a total of 237 weeks, while Stringer, who coached at Cheyney for 11 seasons and Iowa for another 11 years before landing at Rutgers in 1995, has seen her teams rated in the Top 25 for 326 weeks.

BLANTON TAKES LIKING TO POSTSEASON STAGE

Ohio State sophomore forward Stephanie Blanton tied a career-high with 12 points against Maryland in the second round. The game marked the third time in her career she scored 12 points. Blanton connected for 12 points earlier this season at Ohio Dec. 1. Blanton converted 5-of-6 from the field, tying a career high for field goals in a game. Blanton, who started her second straight contest and sixth this season, also tied a career-high with 29 minutes Tuesday.

Blanton established a career-high in NCAA games in minutes (29), points (12), rebounds (6) and assists (3).

In four career NCAA tournament games, Blanton is shooting 77 percent from the field on a 10-13 figure, including a 7-of-10 clip in the 2005 tournament.

STARTING FIVE CARRIES LOAD IN WIN VS. MARYLAND

The Buckeyes have been a deep team throughout the season with eight players averaging at least 10 minutes per outing. In the second round vs. Maryland, Ohio State's starting five accounted for 73 of 75 points. Four of the five starters registered double-digits in points. With the win Tuesday, Ohio State upped its record to 8-0 when four players reach double-digits in points.

The most players to reach double-figures in an NCAA game for Ohio State is five by the 1985-86 team in an NCAA regional semifinal against Maryland March 16. The Buckeyes topped the Terrapins, 87-71.

HOSKINS CARRIES HOT HAND AT HEIGHT OF SEASON

Sophomore guard Brandie Hoskins netted 22 points vs. Maryland on 10-of-15 shooting from the field. The 22-point total was one shy of her career-high of 23 set in the Big Ten tournament semifinal vs. Minnesota (3/6/05). The 10 field goals tied a career-high for a single game, which also came against the Golden Gophers March 6. The 15 attempts were the most in a single game for Hoskins in her two seasons as a Buckeye.

Hoskins has scored at least 14 points in each of her last seven games and eight of her last nine. During that streak, Hoskins has upped her points per game average from 11.6 to 13.2.

Hoskins set career-bests for an NCAA tournament game in points (22), field goals (10), field goal attempts (15) and rebounds (6). She added five assists, the second most for Hoskins in NCAA play.

In round one vs. Holy Cross, Hoskins set a season-high with eight assists.

BUCKEYES HANDLE WITH CARE IN NCAA TOURNAMENT

Ohio State committed 10 turnovers in the second round vs. Maryland. In the first round against Holy Cross, the Buckeyes tied a season-low with eight miscues. So far in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, Ohio State is averaging 9.0 turnovers per game, compared to 14.2 through 32 games prior to NCAA action.

OHIO STATE HAS BEST ASSIST/TURNOVER RATIO

After two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Buckeyes led all teams with a 2.39 assist-to-turnover ratio. In two games, Ohio State dished 43 assists as a team compared to just 18 turnovers vs. Holy Cross and Maryland.

MATTER 10TH BUCKEYE ALL-TIME TO TOP 1,500 CAREER POINTS

Senior guard Caity Matter came into the game Tuesday against Maryland needing just one point to reach 1,500 for her career. She finished the evening with 16 points to set her career total at 1,515. Matter is the 10th Buckeye all-time to score at least 1,500 points in her career. Matter ranks No. 10 all-time at Ohio State with her 1,515 career tallies. Matter moved past the 1,500-point mark with a made jump shot with 15:26 left in the first half. She needs 25 points to surpass former teammate Courtney Coleman for ninth place all-time. Coleman ended her career with 1,540.

HIGHEST SEED SINCE '93

Ohio State's No. 2 seeding in the Philadelphia Regional for the 2005 NCAA Tournament is the highest for a Buckeye squad since the 1992-93 National Runner-up team entered the NCAA tournament with a No. 1 seed in the East Regional. That season, the Buckeyes dropped an 84-82 decision to Texas Tech in the national title game.

OSU WINS RECORD

Ohio State picked up win No. 29 on the season with its 86-45 victory against Holy Cross March 20 in the first round of the NCAA tournament to establish a program record for wins in a single season. The 29th victory surpassed the 28 contests won by the 1992-93 national runner-up squad that finished with a 28-4 record. The 1984-85 team also recorded 28 wins against three losses.

Purdue holds the all-time Big Ten mark for wins in a season with 34 in 1998-99.

ANOTHER DOUBLE-DOUBLE

Davenport recorded her 13th double-double of the season (at least 10 points and 10 rebounds) and 17th of her career with 23 points and 11 rebounds vs. Holy Cross. The double-double against the Crusaders is the first for Davenport in her four career NCAA tournament games.

Davenport is the eighth Buckeye all-time to register a double-double in an NCAA tournament game. LaToya Turner was the last Buckeye to accomplish the feat March 20, 2004 with 10 points and 11 rebounds against West Virginia in the first round at St. John Arena.

Former Buckeye Tracey Hall (1985-88) posted five double-doubles in the NCAA tournament during her career.

BUCKEYES PAINTING THE LANE SCARLET AND GRAY

Tuesday vs. Maryland, the Buckeyes were outscored in the paint for just the fifth time in 34 games this season. Maryland claimed a 36-to-30 edge in the lane over Ohio State. The Buckeyes are 4-1 in contests when their opponent scores more in the lane. Minnesota dropped in 40 points in the lane vs. Ohio State's 38 in the 66-63 overtime loss in the Big Ten tournament semis.

Northwestern scored 32 points inside vs. OSU's 20 Jan. 23. On Jan. 9, Liberty outscored Ohio State 28-18 and on Jan. 16, Rutgers scored 28 points vs. OSU's 26 in the paint. Additionally, Penn State tied Ohio State inside with 34 points apiece Feb. 27.

THIRD SOPHOMORE TO SCORE 1,000 CAREER POINTS

Davenport cleared the 1,000-point career mark with a lay-in at the 3:24 mark of the first half against Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament semifinal. Davenport is the third Ohio State player to reach the milestone in her sophomore season, joining former All-Americans Katie Smith (1993-96) and Frani Washington (1978-80) as the only Buckeyes to complete the feat as sophomores. Overall, Davenport is the 24th Buckeye to reach 1,000 points for her career.

Smith reached the 1,000-point mark Feb. 13, 1994 at Purdue. It was her 52nd career game. Smith is the youngest Buckeye to score 1,000 points at 19 years, 8 months and 9 days.

Davenport played her 63rd career game in the Big Ten semis vs. Minnesota. As of that game, her age was 19 years, 9 months and 10 days.

DAVENPORT NAMED FINALIST FOR WOODEN AWARD

Davenport was named a finalist for the 2005 John R. Wooden Award by the Wooden committee March 8. Davenport, who was named consensus 2005 Big Ten Player of the Year March 1, is one of 17 to be listed on the official voting ballot for the Wooden award, which recognizes the top player in the nation.

The 2005 Women's Wooden award winner will be announced at 1 p.m. EST April 9 during a live, national broadcast on CBS. The announcement will be made at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

A national poll was conducted by the John R. Wooden Award National Advisory Board to determine the ballot for the 2004-05 Wooden Award All-America Team. The Top 17 selection has been based upon each individual's performance and her team's success this season. The John R. Wooden Award was created in 1976 and is one of the most prestigious awards in college basketball.

Davenport is one of four Big Ten players on the final ballot. Minnesota's Janel McCarville, Michigan State's Lindsay Bowen and Penn State's Tanisha Wright join Davenport on the list.

DAVENPORT NAMED TO KODAK/WBCA ALL-REGION 6 TEAM, FINALIST FOR ALL-AMERICAN HONORS

Davenport was named to the Kodak/Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-Region 6 Team March 14. As an all-region selection, Davenport becomes a finalist for 2005 Kodak/WBCA All-America honors.

MATTER NAMED TO 2005 WCBA ALL-STAR CHALLEGE ROSTER

Caity Matter was selected as a member of the 2005 WBCA All-Star Challenge roster in an announcement released by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association March 9. Matter is one of 17 players from across the nation chosen to participate in the game played April 2 in Indianapolis during the 2005 NCAA Women's Final Four. The All-Star challenge will be played at Nicolson Hall on the campus of the University of Indianapolis as part of the 24th annual WBCA National Convention. The WBCA All-Star Challenge roster will change if any of the aforementioned players participate with their respective teams in the Final Four. Alternates will be selected based on voting results. The game will be the second of a doubleheader-event featured during the "WBCA Night of All-Stars." Fans will have an opportunity to watch and collect autographs from the potential future WNBA stars, as well as see the WBCA High School All-America Game.

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